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Property ownership.

June and Bob met at the local bridge club in their early 70’s. Both were widows – June’s husband had died many years earlier leaving her with three young children to bring up on her own and Bob’s wife had died two years earlier.

Bob had two daughters, both of whom were now in their 40’s, with children of their own. June and Bob thought themselves extremely lucky to have found love again later in life, and after a year of dinners, movies and of course bridge club nights, Bob asked June to marry him. They got married later that year and June moved into Bob’s house which he had owned with his late wife.

June and Bob were happy together for a number of years, the only fly in the ointment being Bob’s children. They had been very close to their mother and resented the fact that their father had found a new wife and even worse, that she was living in what had been their family home. June tried hard to bond with Bob’s daughters, but they were just not interested in forming a relationship with her and in fact were openly hostile towards her. June’s children on the other hand, were delighted that their mother had finally found someone after so many years on her own.

June and Bob were now in their early 80’s and decided that they would sell their home and buy in a retirement village. Sadly, just as they were about to sign the documentation for the apartment with their lawyer, Bob suffered a massive heart attack which he didn’t recover from. June was devastated.

As were Bob’s daughters. They were further devastated when they learned that Bob had recently changed the ownership of the family home into his and June’s joint names, meaning that June inherited the whole property upon his death. Further, under his will, Bob had left a life interest in his other investments to June, meaning that his daughters wouldn’t inherit anything until June died.

Bob’s daughters immediately took legal advice and decided to make a claim against Bob’s estate. They would claim that he left them nothing under his will even though he had a moral obligation to do so. They would also claim that even though June took the house as the surviving owner, the property was relationship property and so half should fall back into Bob’s estate. While Bob clearly wanted to make sure that June was looked after in the event of his death, in second relationship situations it is critical to take advice on the implications of leaving your estate in a particular way.

For further Property Law advice, get in touch with Nick and the Property Law team.
nick@davenportslaw.co.nz | 09 883 4420

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